Mantua Center: A Look Back Into Portage County History

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Mantua received the first settler to establish Portage County. In 1798, Abraham Honey was the first European settler to drive a stake, put up a cabin, and settle down in what is now known as Mantua Township, also called Mantua Center.

The township was originally the property of the “Suffield, Cuyahoga & Big Beaver Land Company.” All of the members, some sixteen in number, lived in Suffield, Connecticut.

This company owned three other townships, but at the drawing, the land now comprising Mantua fell to the lot of David, Fidelio, and Ebenezer King Jr.

Small parcels of the land were also owned by Martin Sheldon, Gideon Granger, Thomas Sheldon, and Oliver Phelps. Ebenezer Sheldon afterward purchased a part of Martin Sheldon’s interest.

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It was then known as Town 5, Range 8. The township was surveyed by David Abbott into tracts of 420 acres each, there being forty-two lots. Abbott took two quarter lots; northwest quarter of Lot 29 and southeast quarter of Lot 23. He was a member of the convention that formed the first constitution of Ohio.

The most notable feature of Mantua Center is the “Village Green” which harkens back to the New England heritage of Mantua Center’s early settlers.

The Green sets upon land donated by Hezekiah Nooney Sr. and was important to both the social and commercial interests of the town. The businesses located here were a furniture and cabinet maker’s shop, harness shop, blacksmith shop, post office, tannery, ashery, dry goods store, and distillery.

The Methodist Episcopal Church, now the Mantua Civic Center, stands at the southwest corner of the Green. Eastlawn cemetery, with a burial that dates to 1816, sits along the south border. The cemetery serves as the final resting place for soldiers of several wars, including the American Revolution, as well as many other early citizens. In 1835, Horace Sizer constructed the stone wall around the cemetery adjacent to Mantua Center Road.

Snow House Mantua Township
Snow House Mantua Township

Oliver and Rosetta Snow, who built their home in 1815, relocated to Mantua from Becket, Massachusetts in 1805 with two daughters and raised five more children here.

Oliver prospered as a farmer, served Portage County in a variety of civic capacities, and converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after meeting the church’s founder Joseph Smith in the early 1830s.

In 1838, the Snows left Ohio and eventually settled in Illinois. Two of their children later moved to Utah and became prominent leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lorenzo, who was born on this property in 1814, became the fifth president of the Church, serving from 1898-1901.

Eliza Roxcy Snow, an acclaimed Portage County poet, became second general president of the Relief Society, a Latter-day Saint women’s organization.

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